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Impact of Browser Extensions on Performance: An Empirical Study on Google Chrome


Core Concepts
The use of browser extensions can negatively impact the performance of the Google Chrome browser, with the largest impact on page load energy consumption. Extensions can deteriorate performance even when used in unexpected circumstances or not actively used.
Abstract
This study investigates the impact of browser extensions on the performance of the Google Chrome browser, focusing on page load time and energy consumption. The key findings are: Using extensions can significantly impact browser performance, with the largest negative impact on page load energy consumption. Over 60% of the 72 tested extensions led to a statistically significant increase in page load energy consumption, with an average increase of 16%. Extensions can impair browser performance even when used in unexpected circumstances, such as when access to a webpage is not granted or the extension is not logged in. For example, 38% of extensions without granted webpage access and 72% of extensions without login led to a 19% and 18% increase in page load energy consumption, respectively. Several factors influence the performance impact of extensions, including code complexity, privacy practices, and file types used. Elevated code complexity and certain privacy practices (e.g., collecting personal communications) can significantly increase energy consumption. The study provides recommendations for browser and extension developers to mitigate the performance impact, such as conducting performance testing for unintended usage scenarios, optimizing extensions, and providing users with information about the performance implications of extensions.
Stats
The page load time can increase by up to 335% when using extensions in unexpected circumstances. Extensions can increase page load energy consumption by up to 577% when used in unexpected circumstances. Extensions can increase stabilized energy consumption by up to 13% even when not actively used.
Quotes
"Extensions can deteriorate performance even when used in unexpected circumstances or not actively used." "Elevated code complexity and certain privacy practices (e.g., collecting personal communications) can significantly increase energy consumption."

Key Insights Distilled From

by Bihui Jin,He... at arxiv.org 04-11-2024

https://arxiv.org/pdf/2404.06827.pdf
Impact of Extensions on Browser Performance

Deeper Inquiries

How can browser vendors and extension developers collaborate to proactively address the performance impact of extensions?

Browser vendors and extension developers can collaborate in several ways to proactively address the performance impact of extensions: Performance Guidelines: Browser vendors can provide clear guidelines and best practices for extension developers to optimize their code for performance. This can include recommendations on efficient coding practices, resource management, and minimizing the impact on browser performance. Performance Testing: Collaboration can involve browser vendors offering tools and resources for extension developers to conduct performance testing. This can help developers identify performance bottlenecks early in the development process and optimize their extensions for better performance. Monitoring and Feedback: Browser vendors can implement monitoring tools to track the performance impact of extensions on the browser. They can provide feedback to extension developers on areas where improvements can be made to enhance performance. Education and Training: Browser vendors can organize workshops, webinars, or documentation to educate extension developers on the importance of performance optimization. This can help developers understand the impact of their extensions on browser performance and how to mitigate any negative effects. Collaborative Optimization: Browser vendors and extension developers can work together to optimize the performance of popular extensions. By collaborating on performance improvements, both parties can ensure a better user experience and overall browser performance.

What are the potential trade-offs between the functionality provided by extensions and their performance impact on the browser?

The trade-offs between the functionality provided by extensions and their performance impact on the browser include: Functionality vs. Performance: Extensions often enhance the browsing experience by adding new features and capabilities to the browser. However, these additional functionalities can come at the cost of increased resource usage, leading to slower performance and higher energy consumption. User Experience: While extensions can improve user experience by offering personalized features and tools, they can also introduce complexity that may impact browser responsiveness and page load times. Users may need to balance the benefits of functionality against potential performance drawbacks. Resource Consumption: Some extensions require significant resources to function properly, such as memory, CPU usage, and network bandwidth. This can lead to slower browsing speeds, increased energy consumption, and potential conflicts with other extensions or browser processes. Compatibility Issues: Certain extensions may not be optimized for all browsers or may conflict with other extensions, leading to performance issues. Users may need to prioritize functionality over performance or vice versa based on their specific needs and preferences. Security Risks: In some cases, extensions with advanced functionality may pose security risks to the browser and user data. Balancing the need for enhanced features with potential security vulnerabilities is crucial in evaluating the trade-offs between functionality and performance.

How can the performance impact of extensions be considered in the context of the broader environmental sustainability of web browsing and computing?

Considering the performance impact of extensions in the context of environmental sustainability involves: Energy Efficiency: Optimizing extensions for lower energy consumption can contribute to reducing the overall carbon footprint of web browsing. By developing energy-efficient extensions, developers can help mitigate the environmental impact of excessive energy usage in computing. Resource Management: Efficient resource management in extensions, such as minimizing memory usage and CPU utilization, can lead to a more sustainable browsing experience. By reducing the strain on hardware resources, extensions can contribute to a greener computing environment. Performance Testing: Conducting thorough performance testing of extensions to identify and address performance bottlenecks can lead to more sustainable web browsing practices. By optimizing extensions for better performance, users can experience faster browsing speeds and reduced energy consumption. User Awareness: Educating users about the performance impact of extensions and providing guidance on selecting lightweight and efficient extensions can promote environmental sustainability. Encouraging users to prioritize performance and energy efficiency when choosing extensions can have a positive impact on overall sustainability. Collaborative Efforts: Collaboration between browser vendors, extension developers, and users can drive initiatives to promote sustainable web browsing practices. By working together to optimize extensions for performance and energy efficiency, stakeholders can contribute to a more environmentally friendly browsing ecosystem.
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